A KGB “Line KR” counterintelligence officer identified as a Central Intelligence Agency spy by Robert Hanssen, Vassilenko had been unsuccessfully cultivated for years by the CIA’s Jack Platt. In fact Vassilenko never succumbed to Platt’s blandishments, but in January 1986, while on a visit to Havana, Vassilenko was arrested and taken by ship back to Moscow to face six months of interrogation in Lefortovo prison.
Hanssen had read Platt’s report of a trip he and his Federal Bureau of Investigation partner Don Rankin had taken the previous October to Georgetown, Guyana, to see Vassilenko, whom he had referred to only as “M,” but both Hanssen and the KGB mistakenly believed that the recruitment of the target also code-named MONOLIGHT (by the CIA) and DOVKA (by the FBI) had been successful.
Fortunately for Vassilenko, he was released for lack of evidence after six months, but his career had been ruined. When Aldrich Ames was eventually arrested, it was the Vassilenko case that persuaded the mole hunters that their task was not over. Ames had been posted to Rome during the relevant period, and only the FBI had seen Platt’s report on MONOLIGHT.